August 18, 2003
Jets Not Extorting
Michele rants on the New York Jets' new policy of making people on their season tickets waiting list pay to stay in line.
The economist in me has no problem with paying to stand in line. (If you read James Fallows' Atlantic article on Rupert Murdoch you know they do it on Capitol Hill.) My beloved Green Bay Packers have over 50,000 people on their waiting list. It's common for new parents to put their child's name on the list immediately after birth so they have a possibility of getting season tickets by the time they're 40. For a really small-market team like the Packers paying to be in line would be a good money-maker. Sure, people will be ticked and drop out of line, but that would only make those left move up that much faster.
Where the Jets went wrong is for their president Jay Cross to say the charge was to keep fans "in the family." That's gobble-dee-gook. That's not even good spin. He could have been honest by saying that since there is so much demand just to wait to get Jets' tickets it is appropriate to charge for the privilige. Phil Mushnick is just wrong when he writes, "Jets are now charging something for absolutely nothing." That's not true. The Jets are charging $50 to get on the list for season tickets. Fans saw value by going on the list when the cost was zero, and they'll see value when they pay their $50. Phil certainly showed that any economics classes he took ever rubbed off on him.
With the Jets (and Packers and Redskins) having huge waiting lists for season tickets, that tells me those teams charge too little. Demand is outpacing supply. Of course, I'm being pretty simplistic. Teams want to connect with people. Having very expensive ticket prices could and do alienate fans. Just look at Michele's reaction. Then there are teams like Oakland and Arizona who can't fill up their stadiums. In their cases, if they want to maximize stadium revenue they should lower ticket prices. Since they don't some other factor comes into their decision-making. It might have something to do with shared revenue (ticket money is partially shared with the visiting team) or with television money.
"Jets' List Real Steal"